The short version: what is the cleverest riddle whose answer is "river" or "a river"?


I'm preparing to run the D&D module "White Plume Mountain". At one point in that adventure there's an encounter with a sphinx who asks each character a riddle. Unbeknownst to the party, the answer ("river") is also the password to disarm a nearby magical trap, so that the trap does not attack that character. So the sphinx needs to get each character to say the word "river" before they continue.

Using the scenario as written, the sphinx would ask this riddle to each character in turn:

I have a mouth but never speak. 
I have a bed but never sleep.
I run smoother than any rhyme.
I love to fall but cannot climb.

But this is silly. What self-respecting sphinx would ask the same riddle five times in a row?

So: what's a clever riddle whose answer is "river"?

Difficulty of the riddle is not super important since the adventurers will know from context that the answer is probably "river". It's better if the riddles avoid anachronisms since this is a fantasy setting.

  • $\begingroup$ The sphinx actually asks three different riddles (for three different magical traps). The answers to the other riddles are "moon" (see puzzling.stackexchange.com/questions/30553/…) and "coffin" (see reddit.com/r/riddles/comments/4dxic5/…). $\endgroup$ – Dan B Apr 8 '16 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ Note: I'd be happy to receive multiple riddles in an answer -- I could make use of up to four new riddles. $\endgroup$ – Dan B Apr 8 '16 at 18:43
  • $\begingroup$ Does it have to be four lines? 5 would allow limericks. :( $\endgroup$ – Ian MacDonald Apr 8 '16 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ I've removed the "four line" constraint. Cheers! $\endgroup$ – Dan B Apr 8 '16 at 18:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DanB Instead of multiple riddles in an answer, I would encourage multiple answers - one for each riddle. $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Apr 8 '16 at 19:21

Highway of the ancient days
Providing life in many ways
A boon to those who go my way
But try to cross me and you'll pay


Silver thread across the land
Cannot be held by mortal hand
Lipless mouth and bed of sand
Speak my name is my command

  • $\begingroup$ That's pretty nice! $\endgroup$ – cst1992 Apr 9 '16 at 5:26

I begin and end with the same letter;
I begin and end in the same place.
I am similar to the one from which I'm born
And yet, I'm different, in a most obvious way.
He is big; I am not,
Yet I can go places that he cannot.
I am sweet, and he is sour,
Yet without him, I won't last an hour.

What am I?

  • $\begingroup$ Pretty crude, but then, I put it together rather hastily. $\endgroup$ – cst1992 Apr 8 '16 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ Let me know if there are any false positives in this. $\endgroup$ – cst1992 Apr 8 '16 at 19:34

Wide and wild and wet and hidden
Within a MinotauR I'VE Ridden

Or if there's a wizard in the party:

Run In Vain, Enchanter, Run!
Or speak my word, the clue is: one

Basically, I threw that in because I have a reputation for acrostics.


Doomed to run from place to place
Ever chasing, ever chased
And though I'm always travelling
I rarely change the place I'm in


A few random lines that could be incorporated into anyone's ideas:

Many towns are happy to see me each day, but running among them, I'm met with dismay.
Many pay tribute to me, whether they be like me or not. (tributaries and water gods)
I'm arrived with no ends, my front at my back. (arrived -> rrive -> river)


A bit of an easier one:

Winding gently to the sea
Or rollicking ferociously
With water clear or water white
I flow nonstop, from day to night


Because someone mentioned limericks in the question's comments and I love a challenge (and wordplay):

An ARENA of moderate fame
Was sorely in need of a name
Folks travelled a bit
Back through nine alphabets
And found one. Can you do the same?


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